It's really easy for expats to complain about Korea. It's understandable because some things can become quite frustrating. Some things merit complaints such as the fact that Koreans keep the school windows open even when the thermometer outside reads freezing. This results in everyone having to wear their winter gear indoors. The amazing thing is that most of the schools have heat available, but most of that heat escapes out the open windows. Korea prides itself on being environmentally friendly, yet there is the heat just flowing into the atmosphere. "Are we heating the whole neighborhood?!" I want to say. Why do they do this? I haven't heard a good answer. Anyway, see how easy it is to go off on Korea. I could go on about just the open windows but I'm turning of the complaining about Korea switch. Now I'll just briefly complain about expats complaining.
The thing that bothers me the most is when some one mistakes a difference in culture for a fault. An often heard complaint is about food. All countries don't eat the same thing, that is obvious enough. The pizza here is not going to be as good as in Chicago and the Mexican food is not going to be as good as in Texas. In the United States, the Kimchi in Atlanta is not as good and the Bibimbap in Boston is not as good. It makes sense, and should be expected. The western food places that we find in Korea should be viewed as blessings, not as conveniences. In Gwangju, we are lucky to have a couple good burger places, an awesome Thai place, an Indian place, some decent pizza, a grocers that specializes in Western food, and some other gems. The problem is that some expats rely on these places and begin to resent Korean food. Korean food is actually delicious, and I haven't even tried everything yet. However, I absolutely need breaks from Korean food. That is when I seek out those western restaurants. My point is that we should embrace the culture that we live in for this brief period of time and not try to always compare it to our mother culture. We should not view the western restaurants as places to eat that are surrounded by unfavorable Korean restaurants with weird and unknown food. We should view the western restaurants as options surrounded many more options. So in the spirit of positivity, here is my top five favorite things about Korea. Also, there are a lot of references to China.
Ryan's Top Five Favorite Things About Korea (so far):
5. Heated Floors - I absolutely love my heated floors. Almost all of Korea sports the heated floors. In a culture where if you accidentally walk in to a room with your shoes on it's like you kicked a puppy, heated floors are a must. I can turn mine on for a couple of hours, my toes get nice and toasty, and then my apartment is set for the day. If I leave the floor on for thirty minutes too long then it feels like the "ground is hot magma" game came to life and it's time to open a window. When I lived in China, out of everything, I think the fact that the buildings didn't have any real heat or insulation to speak of was my least favorite thing. In the winter I could never get away from the cold. In school I taught in hat and gloves while my breath was visible when I tried to explain the uses of "ever" and "never". In my apartment I couldn't do anything that didn't involve three comforters piled on top of me. The winter in China sucked, period. That's why I'm so grateful for my totally awesome heated floors here in Korea. Sometimes I just like to lie down on them.
4. Korean Baseball - Some of the most fun I've had in Korea are at the KIA Tiger games. I've already written a whole post about how much I like Korean baseball. Check it out here.
|Two of my favorite co-teachers and me.|
|Sooo good to eat.|
|November Hash House Harriers|
When I lived in China there was a large expat community in Nanjing but it wasn't tight and I was barely a part of it. Geographically I was quite far away from the city center. I had some really great and wonderful friends in Nanjing (forever friends) but this was a small group and I didn't venture much outside the group. It wasn't until I found the Ultimate Frisbee team that I felt like a part of something. I had people to hang out with but except for a couple places it never really felt like much was going on. We just made our own fun. Living on the outskirts of a city with a population of over seven million Chinese was also a recipe for loneliness. Here in Korea things are different. Gwangju does a great deal for the expat community. There are expat publications, several websites, a radio station, several expat hang outs, and a plethora of events. I live in the middle of the city, I feel like a big part of the expat community, and there is always something going on. That's why it's my number one!
|Christmas Ski Trip|